When you’re lost in the wilderness, locating a body of water can be the difference between life and death. Besides the obvious potential of supplying you with drinkable water, a body of water also has the ability to provide many other advantages to a lost wanderer. It can provide refreshment, be used as a method of transportation, prevent hyperthermia, and in some situations, can even lead you straight to civilization.
Regardless of which perks you’re hoping to take advantage of, locating a body of water in a survival situation is a downright good idea. Just remember that if you’re planning on drinking the water, you’ll want to purify it first – no matter how clean it looks!
The following are a few different methods you can use to find bodies of water in the wilderness. None of them guarantee you will find water, but if you use one or more of these methods together, you’ll definitely be more likely to stumble upon a lake, a river, a pond, or a stream out in the wilderness.
How to Find Bodies of Water in the Wilderness
1. Go With Gravity: Head Downhill
As with everything else on earth, water is influenced by gravity. Since water naturally flows downhill due to gravitational pull, if you’re going to be looking for water, your best bet for finding it is to look on lower plains. Heading downhill, therefore, should be the first step you take in your search to find a body of water in the wilderness. Who knows, you may even luck out and find one right away.
2. Follow the Fauna: Head Where Animals Go
It’s an obvious fact, but animals need to drink, too. The animals who live in the wilderness around you know where to find water – if they didn’t, they quite simply wouldn’t be alive. So follow the animals if you’re curious about where they go to get hydrated.
In more heavily wooded areas, following big game wildlife migration routes for some time will give you a fairly good chance of finding a source of water. These routes will look like frequently trampled on, high-traffic dirt roads. Herds of large animals have to stop to drink someplace that has enough water for all of them, and that typically means a body of water.
3. Follow the Flora: Head Where Plants Are
Plants are only able to grow in regions where there is enough water to sustain them. If you are in a fairly dry area such as a desert, heading toward areas that have a higher concentration of plant life will likely bring you closer to water than staying in open desert landscape. If you are in a heavily wooded area, try looking for high concentrations of willows and alders, as these types of trees frequently grow near rivers because of their need for higher volumes of water.